Maybe sometimes you look at your bike and think about getting a new part, some wheels or even another frame. The allure of something new and better can be hard to resist. But the only way to be sure it’s worth the upgrade is to do your homework, investigate the new product and then weigh up the benefits against the costs.
Cycling is looking a bit tarnished now. The hubs need servicing, the wheels don’t run true and the whole frame is looking outdated. But as much as we might want something shiny and new, we don’t know what the replacement is or how things might turn out.
Right now there’s talk of a breakaway league formed by some teams, Jonathan Vaughters has a 10 point plan and Cycle Sport magazine have put forward a good manifesto for the future. Only I can’t help wonder if the sport just needs a service before we consider any big upgrades.
This isn’t to say the sport’s got big challenges nor to deny a lot of the very sensible ideas floating around. But for me it’s the basics that can be fixed first. For example:
- Weak institutions.
- The big stakeholders are warring.
- Riders feel let down, fans feel shut out and teams can’t keep up with sudden rule changes.
- The UCI isn’t strong at public relations but the sport relies on TV images and editorial decisions are vital.
- There are some unresolved conflicts of interest.
- Above all, we’ve still got some way to go with the anti-doping.
One lesson from the race radio saga is that a lot of this could have been prevented by better consultation. The UCI says it did consult, others say it didn’t do this very well. The process needs to be more thorough and inclusive next time. A bit more dialogue, a bit more clarity and a promise to avoid sudden rule changes would go a long way to satisfying people.
The good news is that all the problems in the sport mean there are some relative quick fixes. For now applying the rules and improving governance are basics. There’s no point trying new ideas if the sport is so fragile it struggles to cope with the on/off switch on a radio. Surely we need to get this right before we try the clever stuff?